The next instalment of my Sewing for Beginners series is all about buying fabric! Purchasing fabric can be one of the most exciting parts of a sewing project, but also the most stressful! If like me you don’t have many fabric shops nearby, you have two options: travel far and wide, or buy online.
Nothing quite beats the excitement of walking into a fabric shop, filled to the brim with gorgeous material just waiting to be made into something beautiful. If you do want to buy in-person, but don’t have any stores close by, I’d really recommend attending a show like The Handmade Fair. The downside to this is that you’ll have to pay an entrance fee, but you’ll have access to lots of fabric sellers all in one place. It’s easy to get carried away at such events, but there are a few tips that I’ve learned over the years:
- If you have a project in mind, make sure you take a list of measurements with you, it’s amazing how quickly you can forget when you are distracted by lots of beautiful fabric!
- It’s easy to get carried away with impulse buys. I’m terrible at this, but if you do see a fabric that you just can’t resist, think carefully about what you might use it for. I have a stash of fabric that I have bought on a whim, only to discover that I’ve not bought enough to make anything useful! As a guide, fat quarters are great for smaller items such as purses and cushions. If you’re considering buying fabric for dressmaking, you are realistically going to need at least two metres!
The alternative to attending fairs is buying online. I LOVE online shopping as a rule, but was initially cautious about buying fabric without seeing/feeling it in person. However, my experiences so far have largely been positive, and I’ve made some great finds. If you’re buying online, there are a few things to bear in mind:
- Make sure you know what fabric type you are looking for before you start searching. Sites can have a wide variety of fabrics, and it’s easiest to narrow down by fabric type rather than colour. All good patterns/tutorials should give you an indication of what fabric you need for that particular project.
- Measurements for fabric will vary from site to site. Some sell as fat quarters, others will sell in 10 or 20cm lengths. Check the description carefully to ensure that you are buying the right amount! It’s also worth checking that the fabric will be sent as one continuous length, rather than as lots of fat quarters!
- Go by recommendations. If you search ‘fabric shop’ online, you’ll get LOADS of results, so get recommendations of tried and tested retailers if possible. (I’ve got some below!).
It’s probably no surprise that I buy a fair bit of fabric (I like to think that I’m curating my own collection), and so here are my personal recommendations for the best online fabric stores:
The Fabric Fox
If you’re on the hunt for bright coloured and patterned cottons, the Fabric Fox is a great online store. I recently bought a number of monochrome cottons from them for baby crafting, and they didn’t disappoint. The cotton they sell is always really good quality, and they also stock a number of well known fabric designers.
If you’re looking for an online store where you can buy everything you need for your project, Sew Crafty is the store for you. As well as beautiful fabrics, you can stock up on thread, interfacing, and all of the other haberdashery goodies your heart desires!
If I’m looking for dressmaking fabrics, Fabric Godmother is always the site I head to first. They sell gorgeous jerseys, as well as lots of other amazing fabrics that are perfect for creating a beautiful handmade wardrobe.
Cloth and Candy
Want some cute modern prints? Look no further than Cloth and Candy. I always look here when I’m on the hunt for fat quarters. I recently ordered an amazing bear print fabric to make some bunting for the nursery, and I cannot get over just how cute it is!
Guthrie & Ghani
Based in Birmingham, Guthrie & Ghani is the one store that I’d break my ‘I won’t travel’ rule for (although they also have an online store). This is another good all-rounder, but they really do excel in dressmaking fabric. Check out Lauren’s Instagram feed for some serious sewing inspiration!
Although it can be stressful, fabric shopping should generally be fun, and there is no better feeling than a parcel of beautiful fabric arriving! I hope you’ve found this guide useful, if there is anything else you’d like to know, leave me a comment below!
DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored/collaborative post. Although I have worked with two of the brands mentioned here on collaborative content before, I have made purchases from all of these stores and would genuinely recommend them and their products. All views are my own.